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Gambia turns to private companies for maritime policing

Gambia turns to private companies for maritime policing
From Reuters - September 13, 2017

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia is negotiating deals with three private companies to crack down on rampant illegal fishing in its territorial waters, a senior official with the fisheries ministry told Reuters.

Made possible by poor monitoring capacity and, in some cases, corrupt local officials, illegal fishing costs West Africas coastal nations around $2.3 billion a year, according to a recent study.

Chinese fishing boats are regularly seized by regional coast guards for fishing illegally. An investigation published by marine conservation group Oceana this week found that European vessels had also broken European Union law in West Africa.

Fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing requires continuous monitoring and surveillance of our waters, and we dont have the resources to do that,Bamba Banja, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources, said late on Tuesday.

A former ruler of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, fled the country earlier this year amid accusations of widespread corruption. President Adama Barrow is now seeking to bring order to a sector neglected by the old regime.

Despite its narrow coastline, Gambia possesses particularly rich waters, caused by the merging of fresh water from The Gambia River with the Atlantic Ocean.

Banja said the government was in talks with Dutch shipbuilding group Damen and two other companies, from the United States and South Africa, to provide monitoring and surveillance of Gambias exclusive economic zone.

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